Trending Topics is a column that looks at the week in hockey according to Twitter. If you're only going to comment to say how stupid Twitter is, why not just go have a good cry for the slow, sad death of your dear internet instead?
I'm all for cynicism.
But this week I think the Internet's rich tradition of questioning even the noblest of topics finally reached its illogical conclusion.
On Monday, I let everyone know that Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Matt Carle(notes) had recently joined Twitter and was pledging to donate $10,000 to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia if he were to get to 10,000 followers by the end of the season (as of this writing, he's still not there; so go help him out, yeah?).
What a perfectly nice thing to do. There are a lot of players on Twitter who have made no such promise, and certainly Carle was under no obligation to do so.
And that's where a surprising number of naysayers got a foothold.
"What," some partiuclarly baffling people wondered aloud, "is his endgame?"
Was Carle doing it to boost his Twitter followers? Sure he was. But unlike some people, I don't see the problem with it. Look at the way Paul Bissonnette(notes) has made himself a household name despite getting more press box hot dogs than TOI per game this season. It's all about branding, and if Carle can make himself more of a name around the league, then that's fine.
This idea that he's trying to guilt people into following him is, of course, ridiculous. He doesn't care, really, if he has 10,000 followers or 10. What he might just be doing is raising awareness of a worthy cause -- treating children with serious diseases!
But how is Carle any different than, I don't know, any random professional athlete that has a charity in their name? You see 'em all over, right? Bergeron's Buddies or something, and they bring a dozen or so disadvantaged kids to come to a game 41 times a year. No one cries foul. No one questions the motives behind it. Yeah, get their name out there, but they also get to do some good in the community.
But where it might be nice to bring some kids who would never be able to go to a hockey game on their own, how much is a couple hours at a midseason game between the Hurricanes and Islanders going to change anyone's life?
Carle's donation is of a meaningful size, and it's going to a children's hospital, where it might help some kid beat a disease. These are directly analogous examples, but you tell me which one is doing the greater good?
Others said that $10,000 really isn't that much money to a guy like Carle, who's pulling down a little less than $3.5 million this season. This, too, is a remarkably stupid argument. By that logic, Bill Gates shouldn't donate a million dollars to malaria charities because he makes that much in a week.
When it comes to charitable donations, cut a big check or don't cut one at all, right? Christ, it's $10,000 that CHOP didn't have yesterday.
This is nothing but admirable; anyone questioning Carle on this is just being an idiot and no one should have had to say this.
The Matt Cooke Insanity
Difficult as it may be to believe, there was a sizeable number of people who had Matt Cooke's back in all the Alex Ovechkin(notes)-kneeing, Fedor Tyutin(notes)-charging silliness of the last week, and some with surprising vehemence.
Most outwardly condemned his actions, but then said the equivalent of "Well jeez, y'know the NHL hasn't come down as hard on him as they should have so how can he really be held accountable for his actions?"
And of course, that is stupid. That Matt Cooke of the Pittsburgh Penguins has been suspended for just 10 games since 2004 is ludicrous, obviously, but his long history of being an absolute piece of garbage is well-established and a secret to no one. The reason the NHL hasn't thrown the book at him in a serious way -- say, ringing him up for 20 games or so -- is that the extremely illegal things he does rarely end in serious injuries. Obviously the Savard cheapshot is an exception, but for some terrible reason it wasn't technically illegal at the time, so there was nothing Colin Campbell could do. In theory at least.
Campbell would tell you that the fact Cooke didn't blow out Ovechkin's knee or break Tyutin's neck is, in the league's book, the most important consideration, because it's difficult or even impossible to judge intent. And that's why a repeat offender with a reputation for being a gutless puke around the league got away with just four games of suspension. It's the same amount as Dan Paille, who never got so much as fined for his play in a game, got for his hit on Sawada. And nearly 50 percent less than Tom Kostopulous' six games.
If either of Cooke's latest victims had been injured, they would have dealt him far more games than he got and held those plays up as towering examples of What Not To Do, even though anyone with a pair of eyes and half a brain can see that already.
The people who defend him say he's a product of the system, and they're not wrong. But if the system allows guys like Matt Cooke to continue doing, well, that to opponents, then the real problem here isn't Cooke's revolting play at all, is it?
Pearls of Biz-dom
BizNasty on media criticism: "If Nancy Grace and Glen Beck had a baby it would be a non stop video of this years super bowl halftime show."
If you've got something for Trending Topics, holla at Lambert on Twitter or via e-mail. He'll even credit you so you get a thousand followers in one day and you'll become the most popular person on the Internet! You can also visit his blog if you're so inclined.
- Matt Cooke